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Crisis Over Mexican Indigenous Blockade After Protester Dies

MEXICO CITY: The conflict over roadblocks by members of the Yaqui group in northern Mexico culminated in the death of an indigenous man killed by a truck driver at a roadblock.

The Yaquis were once one of the most persecuted indigenous groups in Mexico and have protested for years against the taking of land and water by foreigners.

But businessmen and truckers in Sonora state complained on Tuesday of abuse and violence at roadblocks. Some truckers say the protesters are asking for money to allow them to take a main highway that leads to the industrial center of Hermosillo, and from there to the US border.

The roadblocks from Yaqui to Sonora severely affect the movement of raw materials, high-value goods and even export trade, ”the Federation of Industrial Chambers said in a statement.

This creates uncertainty, additional costs and breaches of contracts that impact production chains in the three countries of important trade agreements like the USMCA pact with Mexico and Canada which has replaced the old NAFTA trade agreement.

The group said the route was essential for the import and export of automobiles and auto parts, electronics and other products, and called on the government to resolve the dispute.

Many Yaquis are angry that gas pipes, water pipes and railway lines have passed through their territory without consulting them or giving them much benefit. Some now require a large payment. Others are negotiating with the government for housing, water and schools.

The problem has been burning for years and got worse in August. It came to a head last week when a truck drove past a Yaqui roadblock, killing a member of the group.

Sonora state prosecutors said the driver of the truck had been arrested and an investigation was underway to determine whether the death of Yaqui, 32, was accidental or not.

But angry comments in commentary sections of local newspapers after the man’s death suggest many residents have lost patience with the protests.

In August, businessmen complained that Yaqui’s blockade of a key rail line carrying automobiles, freight and other cargo to the US border was causing millions of dollars in losses.

President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador suggested that those blocking the railway line were manipulated by politicians or foreigners, and in August he visited Yaqui territory for the establishment of the Justice Commission for the Yaqui people.

The commission promised housing, development projects and a greater voice for poor Yaqui communities, but some Yaquis are not participating in the talks and the deal has not quelled protests.

Lpez Obrador called the Yaquis Mexicos the most persecuted indigenous group.

Perhaps best known abroad for the mystical and visionary powers attributed to them by writer Carlos Castaneda, the Yaquis stubbornly fought the Mexican government’s brutal campaign to wipe out the tribe in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 1900s.

But they were largely defeated by 1900, and dictator Porfirio Diaz began moving them from their fertile farmlands to less valuable land or virtual enslavement on haciendas as far away as the Far Eastern state of Yucatan.

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